Snippets - Food & Gardens Travel



The millions of cut flowers and bulbs grown each year in Holland leave an indelible mark on the Dutch landscape - the riotous colour of Holland's bulbfields never cease to satisfy and is a sight that everyone should see at least once in a lifetime. Best seen during April and May there are bulbfields throughout the provinces of North and South Holland though the greatest concentration is in an area known as The Bollenstreek, a 19-mile stretch between the towns of Haarlem and Leiden. The town of Lisse is at its centre, where you can visit the vibrant and intoxicating floral displays of the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens between March and May each year.

Cycling is not permitted within the Gardens but a major aspect of a visit is to hire a bike and explore the surrounding bulbfields on two wheels.

Going Dutch on Two Wheels, Discover Touring, Spring/Summer 2016


It's quarter to nine on a Sunday morning in early May. The bells from the Église Abbatiale peal, their tone resonating through the hills and sending ripples along the river. They're not calling a congregation to church this particular Sabbath, inviting us instead to pay homage to a nation's favourite summer fruit - the strawberry - and in particular, the Gariguette.

By 9am a dozen or so strawberry growers, commuting from neighbouring fields are ready to trade at the Marché aux Fraises, their decorated stalls a sea of red, lined with the glossiest, most perfectly presented strawberries every likely to be seen.

The warmth of the spring sunshine picks up a soft breeze and the sweetest scent tickles the nose, the lips begin to quiver, the throat suddenly feels dry longing to be acquainted with the mouth-watering juice that follows the bite of each delicate berry.

Seeing Red, Discover Touring, Spring/Summer 2015


But Nicole has a passion. Spilling out from the kitchen garden, like rampant serpents reaching for freedom from the regimental lines and symmetry of the potager, is her annual collection of pumpkins, gourds and marrows which, by the end of August, create stalactitic tunnels in 'Le Jardin de la Princesse'. These garden ornaments, some edible, some not, are either sold in October during a mammoth pumpkin fest or used to provide the following year's decoration for the chateau.

Channel Crossing, Kitchen Garden, Feb 2010


When A.E. Housman wrote his poem 'A Shropshire Lad' (Loveliest of trees, the cherry now is hung with bloom along the bough) at the end of the 19th century, he would have been unaware of the pessimistic poignancy of his words. For 100 years later the cherry orchards 'hung with bloom' had been ripped out, not just in the half-imagined idealised county that he dreamed of, but across the remainder of England too.

Britain once had a booming cherry industry, the fertile soil in counties such as Hereford, Worcester and Shropshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Kent presenting perfect growing conditions. Introduced by the Romans, cherry cultivation grew in popularity with the traditional orchards filled with blossom as Housman acknowledges, becoming a part of British culture. Their quality was considered unsurpassable, with exports reaching out across the world and merely 70 years ago there were 30-40,000 acres planted with cherries. Since then we have lost 90% of our cherry orchards.

Cherries on Top, Great British Food, July 2009

Rose Fields

...The thing is, when Louis XIV wanted Le Nôtre to work on Versailles, he was engaged elsewhere - at the opulent Château Vaux-le-Vicomte near Mélun, owned by the Minister of Finance, Nicolas Fouquet. The Sun King was jealous of the gardens that Le Nôtre had designed for Fouquet, which were far more ostentatious and extravagent than anything he owned. And so in 1661 he whipped Fouquet into prison and usurped the services of Le Nôtre, pressing him into redesigning the gardens at Versailles, to make them bigger and better.

Gardening genius, French Entrée, Mar/Apr 2016

Rose gardens in any weather are beautiful places and Doué has its fair share. Among the best are the public gardens right in the centre of town - known as the Roseraie Foullon, which displays more than 500 varieties in both formal and informal settings.

From my first visit to the garden, I can recall breathing in the scent of a rose named 'Belle de Lourdes'. It was so fantastically fragrant and beguiling that I felt punch-drunk.

Coming up roses, France Magazine, April 2008


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